Quirky Conservation Tips

midwestcoast Posted By midwestcoast, Dec 3, 2010 at 6:01 AM

  1. midwestcoast

    midwestcoast
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    Oct 9, 2009
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    I'm the first to admit that I get a bit excentric when it comes to conservation of heat, electricity, water... Not all-out crazy, but I do have my little things that some others find, well, quirky. This isn't the regulalr, boring stuff that acually saves significant resources, like insulating, programable thermostats, CFLs....most of us do all that, I'm interested in the dumb little things that make you special :) . I figure there are many here with even stranger little habits than mine, so let's hear some. I'll start:
    -I try to fill the kettle with just about the amount of water I actually need when I'm making coffee or whatever. My wife ussually just fills it right up whenever she boils water. I know better than to hound her about little stuff like that so instead I take the extra hot water & pour it into the steamer on the insert. Voila, pre-heated steamer re-fill.
    -I take the (exterior) screens of my South, East & West windows in fall so that I get full-power sunlight & heat through the windows, then replace come spring.
    -I close-off our spare bedroom & don't heat it unless people are staying over & sleeping in there (not that strange I guess).
    -I use caulking backer rod or pipe insulation to block the grill of my car in winter. It helps the engine warm-up & get to peak efficiency sooner from cold.
    -Instead of running the bathroom fan when I shower in winter, I point the floor fan in there & blast the warm, moist air out the door into the rest of the house where it's needed.

    What do you do?

    Just to put things in perspective here, I have a buddy who refuses to turn his furnace on in winter. He puts an oil heater in the room he's in, bundles up in hats, coats, slippers... and uses an electric blanket when he's working on the computer. It can be 40 degrees in his house & I've seen ice in the toilet. He can tell you how many cents per day the electric blanket costs to run. My wife refuses to visit him this time of year.
    Oh and I have a neighbor who drinks her coffee while sitting on the toilet each morning because she leaves the furnace off until after work & only heats the bathroom with a space heater.
     
  2. woodgeek

    woodgeek
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    Jan 27, 2008
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    Nothing personal, but most folks I know with a list of 'quirky conservation tips' make their spouses crazy, give reasonable frugality a bad name, and most importantly--could have saved 10x the energy/whatever by putting the same effort into real but 'boring' conservation strategies such as window weatherstripping/airsealing/insulation. IMO, I want to do conservations steps from the low-hanging fruit first to the top of the tree last--not compulsively worry about, say, leaving the hot bathwater in the tub until it has cooled (in the winter of course, never the summer), every day of the rest of my life.

    That said, I too only run the bathroom fan during showers during A/C season!

    So, not to hijack, but I think every one person like your friend convinces ten people that conservation means a lifestyle hit and that they're not interested. Carter telling folks to turn down the thermostat and put on a sweater set the movement back, IMO. If he had said, spend a WE putting some insulation in your attic (to give a 70s appropriate example), and enjoy extra cash in your pocket forever, we all would have been better off.

    In other words-->90% of folks are NOT doing that 'regular stuff' you mention. If we are serious about conservation as a society, we need to ask ourselves why not?
     
  3. btuser

    btuser
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    -I boil just enough water for myself because I leave earlier than my wife. After I pour out my water I fill the kettle with enough for my wife and put it back on the hot burner in order to reclaim the residual heat from the stovetop. Its just enough heat to boil another cup of water so my wife doesn't have to turn the stove back on.
    -Every year I change the oil in my snowblower, but its never that dirty at the end of Winter so I reuse it in my lawn mower for the Summer.
    -Instead of mulching the flower beds to keep the weeds down I compost the leaves from my yard and spread them in June before weeds can spread.
    -When I make pies I make 3-4 at a time, then freeze the ones I don't cook right away. I wrap them in plastic then in plastic grocery bags, then stack them in the freezer with some plastic rings I made from some flexible plastic I was going to throw away anyway.
    -Every year I use less fertilizer for the lawn. I know this is not a victory but I'm slowly weening myself from the suburban lifestyle. There are some lawns in my neighborhood that have so many chemicals sprayed on them they glow at night. I mulch clippings, and apply 1/3 the amount recommended at 4 weeks instead of 6 weeks, so I use less than 1/2 and use incecticide treatments every other year. Plus, every year I claim more of the lawn for veggies/flowers/fruit trees so the eventual lawn footprint is going to be 1/3 the original footprint.
    -I use stone whenever possible because it lasts and always looks good. All my hardscape materials are reused stuff someone else was replacing with a new style. I picked up 2000 clay pavers for $100. I bought 250 linear feet of granite curbing for $2/ft (2 DOLLARS A FOOT!!!!!!)
     
  4. Dune

    Dune
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    I drive the speed limit.
     
  5. daveswoodhauler

    daveswoodhauler
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    After I use the oven in the winter and fall, I leave the over door open a crack to allow the warm air to help heat up the room.
     
  6. oldspark

    oldspark
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    Been driving small cars since 1971, until we get enough people on board you might as well pee into the wind.
     
  7. joecool85

    joecool85
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    Jan 24, 2010
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    The warm air will make it into the room anyway, it has to due to the laws of thermodynamics. No point in leaving the door open unless you just want the stove to cool off faster/give more heat for a shorter time.


    I do this as well and always promote the idea. People love my wife's 2002 Ford Focus wagon, big enough to be comfy, small enough to get 30 mpg.
     
  8. Jags

    Jags
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    I can single handedly heat an entire room with my breath by yelling at the other occupants of the house that are wasting energy.
     
  9. midwestcoast

    midwestcoast
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    I agree with a lot of that, just thought this would make for a lively thread. I have already done the big stuff & don't feel the need to defend my green cred. And no, I don't drive my spouse crazy, I am self-aware enough to know it's worth lobbying for the big changes that make a real difference & let the small stuff go. She doesn't do any of the things I listed & I don't expect her too. She does have her own brand of crazy, er, I mean unique outlook, though. She will wash & re-use Ziploc bags 'till they wear thru. I can't be bothered washing chicken grease out of a little baggy & just use a new one.
     
  10. midwestcoast

    midwestcoast
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    Thas what I'm talkin 'bout! My grandfather would be proud.
     
  11. midwestcoast

    midwestcoast
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    If you have that many people in a small car, I'd advise everyone peeing out the back, with the wind. Would be more efficient.
     
  12. oldspark

    oldspark
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    Didn't see that one coming %-P
     
  13. Delta-T

    Delta-T
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    Feb 27, 2008
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    my mother in law washes styrofoam plates and reuses them until they dissolve. I won't use styrofoam, so I could not do this, but it is very amusing to look into her dish rack.
     
  14. Shari

    Shari
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    Oct 31, 2008
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    Ummm.... visiting my Grandmother on nice sunny summer day I couldn't help but notice she had washed her paper plates and was drying them on the clothes line.......... She went to an assisted living center shortly thereafter... :)

    My tip: We were just forced into hooking up to city sewer (nothing wrong with our septic system, just 'progress' in our area of town). So, now we not only 'pay' for the city water coming in we now have to 'pay' for the amount of water going out.

    Switching over to 24/7 wood heat means our basement is much cooler. Our water heater is down there. Our master bathroom is the farthest from the water heater. Hmm... takes longer to get hot water in the morning. All that cold water going down the drain was driving me crazy considering all I wanted to do was wash my face. Solution: Granny's old electric teapot now sits on my bathroom counter! Fill it up 1/2 way & plug it to heat while getting dressed in the morning = just enough hot water to wash my face. :)

    Shari
     
  15. midwestcoast

    midwestcoast
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    Great story Shari. I can see those warped paper plates waving in the wind, hah! My warped mind has a special place for displays of depression-era frugality. Good to know where the line is between "Oh he is just a little excentric", and "I think it's time we gets some help" :p No offense meant to granny. You know what they say...not 'till you've walked a mile in their shoes. Assuming they HAVE shoes.

    I hear you on wasting the cold-hot water. My home set-up is similar & it bothers me too. I had a plan to pipe that water out to the rain barrels, but the wife vetoed. I looked into moving the heater & found many road-blocks. I've just let it go for now, but you know a tiny part of me screams out in agony watching that water go down the drain while the shower warms up. I paid for that water; paid to heat that damned water; now I'm paying to dispose of the F@$%#%! WATER!! NOOOOOooooooo! :lol:
     
  16. btuser

    btuser
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    Jan 15, 2009
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    From my wife's grandmother's house, I took over 30 lbs of aluminum pie plates out of the basement. She would wash the pie plates and keep them (along with everything else) in the basement. I'm not crazy like that.

    No, I'm not, not, I'm not crazy.
     
  17. Jaugust124

    Jaugust124
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    Feb 14, 2010
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    How about keeping a plastic bucket in the shower. While waiting for the water to heat up, the bucket gets partially filled which can then be used for flushing the toilet. (Or other things, I suppose)
    There are times when it seems to take a long time for the hot water to get to the shower. I haven't tried this yet, but have heard of others who do.
     
  18. PJF1313

    PJF1313
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    Oct 25, 2009
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    I keep on hearing that, bouncing off the walls of my rubber room!!!


    P.J.


    PS - NO - WE are NOT crazy, the REST of the world is!!!
     
  19. jebatty

    jebatty
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    We have one level house with basement. Two bathrooms are back to back. Put the hot water heater right under the bathrooms to get immediate hot water. Now, kitchen is 30' feet away, and the solution for the kitchen was to have separate hot water from a 5 gallon heater hung from the basement ceiling right under the kitchen sink and dishwasher. We rarely use more than 5 gal of hot water in the kitchen, and now immediate hot water in the kitchen too. Hot water heaters are electric, also added 6+" insulation, and insulated all hot water pipes. Also added separate metering for off-peak discount (electric for hot water only 11pm-7am). Monthly electric hot water bill before off-peak discount is $12, after discount is $4.
     
  20. btuser

    btuser
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    Our showers are about 50' from the hot water heater. We try to take showers in series so the water in the lines is still hot for the next person. My parent's hot water needs are closer to 100' from the hot water heater. My plan next Summer is to put a 5 gallon HWH in their bathroom closet and use it to cut down on the endless wait for them. Every morning my mother is using about 10 gallons just to wash her face.

    I LOVE the teapot idea.
     
  21. midwestcoast

    midwestcoast
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    Excuse the Safety Moment, but: To anyone who may use the tea-kettle water heater system, make sure the outlet is a GFCI & test it regularly. Always un-plug kettle before pouring water into the sink.
     
  22. benjamin

    benjamin
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    Nov 7, 2009
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    Why is attic insulation no longer appropriate? And here I've been harping on attic insulation, and nobody told me we're not supposed to do that anymore.

    In my single days I had a "shower" that consisted of a 10 gallon water heater with a modified Tstat that would heat to about 110 degrees, a short length of garden hose connected to the hot outlet and a shower head, and a short length of hose that connected to a longer length of hose that connected to a frost proof hydrant that was only connected while in use. Combined with a small enclosed shower curtain this provided a frostbite resistant shower in any weather.


    http://www.sunfrost.com/efficient_shower.html in case anyone wants to build off of this idea.

    I've heard stories of a friend of a friend who would survive without heat by sleeping in his coveralls and burrowing into the middle of a big pile of insulation.

    The biggest problem with no heat WI living is dealing with mattress moisture. When the ambient temp is below zero the dew point is inside the mattress, resulting in a moldy mess. Propping up the mattress during the day helps.
     
  23. Shari

    Shari
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    Ah... yes... forgot to mention that.

    Shari
     
  24. Highbeam

    Highbeam
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    While waiting for the hot water to arrive at your appliance, you are not just wasting water. You are wasting HOT water. Every drop that comes out of that hot tap is a drop of cold water added to the water heater that must be heated. My family has a tough time understanding this one. Thinking that they will only use a half gallon of hot water to wash their face (or whatever) but the tap will run for a long time while waiting for hot water to reach the tap.
     
  25. semipro

    semipro
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    Jan 12, 2009
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    Hmmm.
    - Using doors on the leeward side of the house when its windy to keep the air from blowing in
    - Not heating the bedrooms, using only space heaters, what heat migrates upstairs, a mattress pad, and my wife for heat.
    - Using bathroom vent fans only for removal of unpleasantness
    - Really making use of our setback thermostat. Studies show most that have them don't use them.
    - Disconnecting the "emergency heat" wire on our thermostat so that a setting differential of more than 2 degrees doesn't engage the aux. heating element.
    - Water heaters on timers, temps set at 120 degrees
    - Power strips all over the place where electronic devices might create "vampire" loads
    - Opening blinds when sunny, shutting them at night to keep the heat in
    - Use microwaves for heating whenever possible because they are more efficient than electric stoves
    - Pruning southside trees "just right" so that the summer sun hits the yard around the house but not the house
    - We put many of our electronics (e.g. wireless router) in one kitchen cabinet to hide them and then use that cabinet for bread dough rising
    - Using a clothesline instead of our electric dryer. (my kids really hate this since I've disabled it for enforcement)
    - Keeping closet doors closed as there's no reason to waste heat there (but the clothes are cold when you put them on)
    - Rotate through clothes until they look bad or smell
    - Two bath towels in rotation, allowing one to dry well while using the other, only cleaning when needed
    - Washing babies while we showered instead of using a separate bath - made them tougher too!
    - Using our dogs to clean our dishes. Not really though we did invest in a really efficient dishwasher.
     

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